GREEN BAY, Wis. — While DT B.J. Raji wasn't one of the Packers players who showed up for a preseason kickoff luncheon wearing a cowboy hat, he liked his teammates' subtle show of swagger.
Going into the season, most people took the Packers' Old West costume caper as a playful but purposeful message that they intended to finish their season in cowboy country, the Super Bowl on Feb. 6 at Cowboys Stadium — and weren't afraid to say so.
And with the Packers now preparing to face the Steelers after beating Chicago in Sunday's NFC Championship Game, Raji says the defensive linemen might plan a motivational gimmick of their own.
"I think the D-line has something up our sleeve for this trip," Raji said Monday, still relishing his interception return for a touchdown against the Bears.
To be sure, coach Mike McCarthy's Packers will never be mistaken for Rex Ryan's mouthy Jets. But the Packers spent training camp embracing their role as Super Bowl favorites, displays of confidence quickly forgotten once injuries piled up. Had Green Bay lost either of its final two regular-season games, it would have missed the playoffs — so in their minds, the Packers have won five straight playoff games.
"We got to the point where they told us we had to win the last two games to get in, and everybody put it on their shoulders," WR Donald Driver said. "Everybody had to look at themselves in the mirror and say, 'You have to do your job better if you want to get here.' "
McCarthy credited the players for not losing confidence once the injuries hit.
"Our particular path this year, in hindsight, has made us a stronger football team," McCarthy said. "It's shaped us in a different way. … We feel like we're a razor-sharp team."
SUPERDOG: The Steelers seemed surprised but not that upset about being a 2- to 3-point underdog in early betting lines to the Packers, a No. 6 seed.
"I kind of don't understand what everybody sees that we don't see," DB Ike Taylor said.
"I think we do our best when we're underdogs," DL Chris Hoke said. "People were talking at the beginning of the season, how we were going to go 6-10 or 7-9."
RODGERS DINGED UP: McCarthy says QB Aaron Rodgers' shoulder is sore after he was hit during Sunday's game. The coach didn't seem too concerned, saying every player has bumps and bruises at this point in the season.
HIGH TICKET: As of Monday afternoon, there were 1,907 tickets available on StubHub.com, with prices ranging from $2,501 for a seat in the upper corner above the end zone at Cowboys Stadium to $22,223 for a lower-level seat on the 50-yard line. Those are asking prices, however, and there's no guarantee they will command that much. Face value is $600 and $800 for seats in the upper bowl, $900 for the lower bowl and $1,200 for club seats. Prices skyrocket on the secondary market.
Super Bowl XLV
Steelers vs. Packers
When: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 6
Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas
TV/radio: Ch. 13; 1010-AM